Localization With Transceiver And Probe

Avalanches > Search and Rescue > Searching for Avalanche Victims > Localization With Transceiver And Probe

With the transceiver just above the snow use the cross technique to localise the victim. The volume control on an analogue beacon should be at a minimum. Keep the beacon in the same orientation and move across the snow, in a north-south-east-west direction. The aim is to find the point where the signal is at a maximum. Mark the snow with your hands if this helps. If you find two maximum signals there may be two victims close together, some digital beacons will indicate if there are multiple victims within range, with an analogue beacon the two signals should be clearly audible.

The amount of precision with which one can localize a victim is approximately equal to the burial depth of the victim. This is where an avalanche probe is an essential tool. It can show precisely where the victim is buried and at what depth. Assuming the probe is long enough. Start by probing at the maximum point, you can now search in a grid pattern with a 20cm spacing until the victim is located (a soft surface at a depth different from ground level). Some searchers probe in a spiral pattern from the maximum point.

If there is more than one searcher then the team can be split into different functions. Searchers, probers and diggers and tasks can carry on in parallel for multiple victims. Once the victim is located with a probe leave it in place. Start digging at burial depth distance from the probe. This will ensure that the hole is wide enough as it deepens. Once a body part is found try to free the head first and if possible make the hole big enough so that emergency medical help (mouth to mouth, heart massage) can be administered while the rest of the body is being freed.

Localization is perhaps the most stressful part of the search. It is fairly easy to identify the general location of a victim with a beacon but localizing a body that is buried 50 or more cm from the surface requires a cool head and a methodical and practised approach.

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